Well, that was certainly one of the busier NFL trade deadlines in my lifetime. A number of big names got traded, and for our purposes here the biggest name was Jay Ajayi going from the Miami Dolphins to the Philadelphia Eagles. The initial consensus was that this would boost his value, going from a struggling Miami offense to one of the more productive offenses in the league in Philadelphia. However, I’m not so sure.
While the Dolphins have been hot garbage this season, Ajayi at least had the benefit of being top dog. In Philadelphia, he joins a committee that currently features LeGarrette Blount, Wendell Smallwood, Corey Clement, and Kenjon Barner. The Eagles have announced that Blount is, at least for now, still their starting running back. While Ajayi shouldn’t lose much time to the latter three once he gets assimilated into the offense, he will probably lose some touches to Blount, especially near the goal line.
The Eagles also love to throw the ball pretty often, despite the success they have had running the ball. Don’t expect just because they now have Ajayi that they are going to start running the ball 75% of the time. This is still a West Coast offense that runs the ball for the sake of balance rather than some kind of desire to actually run the ball. They like to pass for the lead and run things down when they can. Between that and Blount still being around, don’t expect Ajayi to get the ball 30 times a game.
He should still be a valuable back going forward, but I would be a little worried about starting him this week. Assuming he is active, the Eagles are probably going to have a package of plays for him and not ask him to do too much. They have a bye week next week and will probably wait until after that to fully unleash him.
On the Miami side of things, Damien Williams and Kenyon Drake are going to compete for touches. My money is on Williams getting first crack, but the Dolphins are probably going to split time and roll with the hot hand until (if?) someone takes the job. With how things have gone in Miami so far this year, I wouldn’t want to rely on either one until we see some kind of production.
Now, to the charts!
Mike Maher’s Week Nine NFL Handcuff Report
NOTE: In the tables below, I’ve removed running backs who have been placed on Injured Reserve. If the running back is injured but is not on IR, then he has a + next to his name.
- Will the addition of Kelvin Benjamin open up things even more for LeSean McCoy or take away some of his touches? McCoy has been Buffalo’s best wide receiver and, really, their best everything. Does this help or hurt his value? Thinking emoji. Usually, improving the offense is a good thing. A better offense means more plays and more opportunities, which should offset a share in touches. Should. So, you know, we’ll see how it goes.
- We had an Isaiah Crowell sighting. Is it enough to get excited about him and consider him a viable option going forward? No. No, it is not. Sad. It’s a step in the right direction for him, at least.
- The seesaw/lottery/randomizer/whatever you want to call the New England backfield continues. This week, Dion Lewis was one of the more valuable running backs in the league. Will that be the case next week? No idea. Anyone who tells you they have any kind of idea is lying to you or lying to themselves.
- Samaje Perine didn’t take the field for a single offensive snap for the second straight week. Now that Rob Kelley is back and Chris Thompson is having the most success in Washington, they seem content to leave Perine on the bench. Not great news for Perine’s short-term outlook. He is still worth a stash in dynasty leagues, but that is about it at this point.
- Assuming that Ezekiel Elliott’s suspension has not been reversed and un-reversed multiple times before this posts, the Cowboys are going to be without their star running back for the next six weeks. Look for Alfred Morris to be the first man up, with Darren McFadden likely getting some time too. Behind that offensive line, Morris should do just fine. Don’t look for the same kind of production that Zeke was putting up, but it would not be surprising to see Morris emerge as a reliable RB2 option going forward.
- Have we talked in this space before about staying away from Seahawks running backs? Oh, right, we have. Well, stay away anyway. Their running backs combined for roughly four inches of rushing this past week, and they couldn’t even decide who they wanted to run into an unblocked wall of defenders. Perhaps the addition of Duane Brown helps them run the ball a bit better, but I am inclined to think they need more help than that.
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